Life and Style Toyota Verso Excel

'The ideal family car if you want peace and quiet'

Taxi drivers rebel over cab order

THE BLACK taxi cab, as characteristic of London's transport system as the red bus or the Tube train, has expansionist ambitions on the rest of Britain. But it is a drive that is exercising the minds of drivers more than learning the 'Knowledge'.

Motoring: The Independent Road Test: Spaced out in the top people's carrier: Renault's Espace will be even more popular in its turbo-diesel version, says Brett Fraser

HAVING created the so-called 'people carrier' or 'multi-purpose vehicle' (MPV) class with its Espace model in 1984, Renault is being pursued by a fast-flowing stream of imitators. So far, the Espace has swum ahead of the torrent, although Toyota's Previa is close on its tail. But a collaboration between Volkswagen and Ford to produce a people carrier (now in the latter stages of development), a similar project from Mercedes-Benz, and rumours of MPVs from Lancia, Peugeot and several others means the Espace is in danger of being swamped.

Motoring: Shaker and mover for all the family: Can Nissan's one-box people carrier oust the trusty estate? Roger Bell is not convinced

Pundits once forecast that the Renault Espace - a mould-breaking one-box car with seating for seven - would set the fashion for family holdalls. So far it has not. Eight years on from the Espace's 1985 launch, multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) make up only a fraction of Britain's car market. There are sure signs, though, that demand for open-plan people movers is set to take off, just as that for off-road 4x4s has done. Analysts say that by 1995 MPVs could account for 300,000 sales in Europe.

MOTORING / It's official: size doesn't matter: The concept is what counts in the new generation of vehicles, writes Roger Bell

VOLVO MAN is facing a dilemma. Does he graduate to a 940 estate - staid, safe, practical, prestigious - for his growing family, or spurn convention for trendier transport? A decade ago, he had no choice. Today, he could opt for a more versatile multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) like the Renault Espace, precursor of a new breed of socially acceptable van-like cars that Ford, Fiat, and Peugeot, among others, plan to imitate.

MOTORING / Nissan: Little and Large: John Fordham finds the Japanese company now has winners in both supermini and people-mover categories

SINCE they were launched almost simultaneously, I wondered at first whether Nissan was advertising its vivacious little British- built town car and its charismatic and adaptable new people-carrier on the same hoarding. You can't have missed the one I mean, looking like a child's felt-tip outline of a little bubble-car next to a big one. A job-lot campaign didn't seem likely by the usual rules of advertising - not making market-targeting sense or anything - but in these days of imaginative cost-cutting, you never know.

Mercedes abandons 'perfection at any price' to widen sales appeal: The car maker's thinking signals a fundamental shift for German industry, writes John Eisenhammer

IT WAS GERMANY'S sudden plunge into recession last year that first tore large holes in the comfortable belief that Mercedes had long wrapped around itself: that the august company's reputation was sufficient to sweep aside problems of price and costs.

Leisure fillip for light truck sales

EUROPEAN sales of light trucks will recover this year owing to increased demand for 4x4 off-road leisure vehicles and multi-purpose vehicles such as the Renault Espace, a report forecasts today, writes Michael Harrison.
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